Friday, March 14, 2008

League Profile: Mile Zero Ultimate/ St John's Newfoundland


If you live in a large city, and you're lucky, you still have a few league members who were around during the inception of your respective league. Using Ottawa as an example, these individuals have overseen OCUA go from being started in someone's basement to being a 4500 member league that plays all year.

As leagues in maritime cities are started, we have the chance to watch and help the growing of the game. I heard through friends about a league in St John's called Mile Zero Ultimate and made efforts to chat with them about their league and their game.

Johnny Byrne, president of the league, was more than willing to provide feedback. His entertaining and infomative comments are listed below...


What was your First year of existence?


Mile Zero Ultimate began officially in 2004 with a 12 week, summer league involving 10 teams and approximately 150 players. All ultimate play in Newfoundland and Labrador thus far has been co-ed in nature.

What is the size of the league (teams and total players)?

Since that first summer, the numbers have jumped substantially. The 2007 season saw 18 teams and over 300 players take part. In addition to the summer league, MZU now also includes both fall and winter leagues. The Fall league, started in 2004, is played on field turf at King George V and can accommodate approximately 180 players. Our indoor, winter league with approximately 60 players registered began in 2007.

What makes Newfoudland ultimate unique?

Newfoundland ultimate is like nothing you’ve played in before. Because Newfoundland is anchored in the North Atlantic weather is very unpredictable on a daily basis and as such, players must be prepared for just about anything. Because of the lack of a spring season our summer league must wait until June to begin to ensure proper field management, but even then you won’t be guaranteed good weather. Perhaps the biggest constant though is wind. There is rarely a day in the summer that you will not have to deal with some wind. When wind is not a factor you must be prepared for RDF…otherwise known as rain, drizzle and fog. Another reality of North Atlantic living. The ability to adapt to the changing weather conditions is what separates Newfoundland ultimate

What cities are covered/represented by league and league design?

The league is based in St. John’s, NL, however, it’s range covers the entire Northeastern Avalon Peninsula with players coming St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South and most surrounding communities.

Do you hold/host any tournaments?

Thus far, tournaments have been restricted to several hat tournaments. Two summer staples are the “Toilet Bowl” (pictured) in which teams play for the chance to drink from our coveted Toilet Bowl Trophy and the Gender Split tournament which sees separate male and female tournaments take place side-by-side. Our largest tournament of the year is our summer league playoff tournament “The Flaherty Cup Playoffs”. Coincidentally like the toilet bowl the Flaherty Cup was designed to drink out of. As the premiere trophy of the MZU league its drinking function is more refined than the TB and it operates as a funnel. It is hoped that in the future a bigger tournament can be planned that will see teams from outside of the greater St. John’s area venture to our fine city to take part in an annual tournament.

Do you have any Youth Programs?

There are no organized youth programs at the present time. However, the appetite for youth appetite is growing as many adults introduce the sport at the schools they teach, within other sport teams they coach and parents look for inexpensive, recreational opportunities for their children.

Are there any competitive/touring teams?

In 2006, the first touring team from Newfoundland and Labrador took off from The Rock in hopes of greener pastures taking part in the Solstice tournament in Markham, ON. That team, Granite, finished with three wins in six games and brought a new enthusiasm back to Mile Zero. The next year another team, Mutiny, traveled to Huntsville, ON for the Ultimate Long Weekend. There are currently talks about organizing other teams for tournament travel in 2008.

Flaherty Cup
Courtesy: Mile Zero Ultimate

Plans/Thoughts on sending teams to Canadian Nationals in the future?

There has been talk in the past of sending teams to the Canadian Nationals, however, logistical problems thus far have been the biggest barrier. Newfoundland’s eventual entry into the fray at the National level will undoubtedly send shock waves across the Nation. The addition of the “right” coast will start a chain reaction that will see the power shift the east.

1 comment:

MZU said...

thought I'd give you an update as ultimate is very much alive and well in St. John's. In addition to MZU there are now two other ultimate leagues operating in the area. The St. John's Women's Ultimate Rec League (SWURL) operates leagues year-round and in the fall of 2011, the Mens Avalon Ultimate League (MAUL) will start.

Now in 2011 MZU's reach has grown. The summer league has expanded to 24 teams, the fall league has expanded to allow 240 players and the winter league has doubled in size to 120!

Youth ultimate is also growing. Most schools in the area now offer ultimate and there are regular youth games and a junior and senior high tournaments organized by Ultimate Newfoundland and Labrador.

The biggest change has been with travel teams. Wreckhouse has represented NL at mixed Nationals twice in the past two seasons and travels extensively throughout the year. The Newfoundland Liberation Army is an Open team that is gaining steam after two straight Nationals appearances. On the women's side Tempest has begun to travel as well.